I’ve been fortunate to have worked a great deal out on Ellis Island, that one time beacon of hope in the NY harbor. In 1988, I was assigned for a month by National Geographic to photograph the restoration of the island. Of late, I’ve been the Nikon School teacher designated to lead photo workshops out there. We are privileged to work with the Save Ellis Foundation, which administers and preserves the vacant end of the island, essentially what had been the hospital wing, now abandoned for many years. The buildings are aging and worn, decrepit to be sure, but rich in history, and redolent with the spirits of the people who struggled to come here, and passed through the portal known as Ellis Island. You can feel them, still, in the hallways, and long unused rooms. People yearning to be free.
I was especially excited to go out this past week, as I would be shooting the mirrorless Z7 camera, which frankly, is perfectly suited to the hunt and seek, find-the-light style of shooting you engage in out there. I had a ball.
I rarely shoot particularly well on a day when I teach as it is not my primary mission. I’m there to teach. But people were curious about the new tech, so I did push myself to demo the camera a bit. All these pix were shot with the Z7 and the native Z lenses, the 35mm f/1.8 and the 24-70 f/4. I carried around two of them all day, as they are light and easy to tote. I bring tripods out to the island, but I generally loan them out to participants who might need them. I push myself to hand hold. The in-body stabilization system in this camera works really well. There are many moody, dark rooms out there. Below is a shot of the morgue.
When I do shoot, it is to hopefully instruct and lead the way to good light. Such as the hallway below, in the late morning. I try to show how light like this has to be a magnet for the camera, and when you see it, your eye has to quiver with anticipation. I saw this section of the hall from quite a ways away, and, I was drawn to it. I made three frames, showed my LCD to the class and encouraged them to get this down on pixels.
And then (thank you for your wisdom, Jay Maisel!) I turned my back on the gorgeous nature of the hall and took a look at what all that light was doing, albeit in a different direction. It made for portrait light, and I had a willing, wonderful participant standing right there in it. FYI, I made both of these snaps in AWB, Auto 1, on the Z7. There are three auto white balance modes now, in this machine. The A1 that I used keeps the sense of the overall scene and does not increase or decrease the warm tones. Worked quite well, feels true to what I saw. Below that, our group in one of the main hallways.
Low light, ISO 2500, check.
What’s not to like here? It’s a whole new ball game, and I am totally charged up about it. Light, fast and sharp. Amazing files. Clean high ISO. In body stabilization. An EVF that gives you more info than an onboard computer on a space shuttle. (I’m waxing eloquent here, letting my imagination out for a romp. I have no idea what you see on a space shuttle computer.) Silent mode. Bang on AF. Just getting started on this new chapter.